|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “The awesome reality of the presence of God”
Our Bible verse for today: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Life is always better with Jesus than without Him”
Among the many things Isaiah prophesized regarding the coming of the Messiah, including that He would be the Light of the World and The Prince of Peace, was that He would set the captives free. What could Isaiah have meant by that? He wrote those words to people living in a world where both slavery and unjust imprisonment were common. Many people, Jews and gentiles alike, were being held in slavery at that time, and there were certainly many innocent prisoners. That has continued to be true throughout history. Was Isaiah guaranteeing freedom for those held in bondage? No. Although slavery and unjust imprisonment has been and always will be wrong, that’s not the kind of freedom Isaiah was referring to.
Jesus frees those held in bondage to sin. He also frees those who are prisoners to addiction, and bitterness, and unforgiveness, and poor self-image. He breaks the bonds of hopelessness and despair. Jesus offers us freedom of the heart and soul and we experience it regardless of, or even in spite of, external circumstances.
Matthew 11:28-30 is one of the most helpful and reassuring passages in all of Scripture. In that parable Jesus created a word picture that the people of His day could easily relate to. They lived in an agrarian society. They were farmers and were therefore very familiar with the image of a team of oxen yoked together plowing a field or pulling a cart. In every team of oxen there is a lead ox and a follower ox. The lead ox is bigger, stronger, and more experienced. He carries most of the load and provides all of the direction. The job of the follower ox is to stay yoked to the lead ox, share the burden, follow his lead, and learn from Him.
In this parable Jesus is saying, “Let me be your lead ox. You stay yoked to me; walk through life with me – side-by-side. I will carry most of the load and I’ll provide all of the direction. You just stay with me and we will do this (life) together.”
This is the freedom Jesus came to offer us. Regardless of our circumstances in life everything will be better with Jesus than without Him. Whether that life is lived in comfortable and affluent Crossville, TN, or in the Amazon Jungle, or in a remote part of Africa, or in war-torn Ukraine, life will be better with Jesus than without Him.
Several days ago, I asked the question, “Is the Christ of Christmas present in Ukraine?”. The answer is yes. Yes, He is, just as He is present everywhere else. And He wants to be present in every heart, everywhere. That’s one of the things we celebrate and remember at Christmas. Jesus came to enter into every life and into every heart. Not only is this vital for eternity, but life itself is better with Jesus than without Him. We’ll think more about this tomorrow.
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